Wells: A place of catalytic connection.
There’s a girl at the well. Any Jewish person would crack a knowing smile, because perched on the horizon is romance. Think of all the encounters at a well that resulted in betrothal: Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, Moses and Zipporah. Consider this an Old Testament meme. Around a well, people meet up and marry.
Wells were also an essential part of life in arid lands. People would journey to wells to water their livestock. Sojourners sought out wells to refresh their camels. Women swayed with vessels hoisted high, walking to the well for water to meet domestic needs. You can imagine everyone taking a long drink, quenching a shared thirst. At home or on a journey–regardless of gender–wells were central to life.
Jesus found a well in Samaria when He was traveling through to Jerusalem. A woman was already there. (You’d be forgiven if your first thought went to a budding romance, given the precedence!) He asked for the favor of some drawn water; even Jesus gets thirsty. A stunning conversation between Jesus and the woman unfolded. She was fully seen* and accepted. Her thirst for dignity, for visibility and for connection satiated by Living Water on offer from the source Himself.
Jesus sat well-side, but so did she. Jesus revealed Himself to be the well overflowing with life-giving water for parched souls. It didn’t take her long to run, to hurry, to leave her vessel behind, so she could share the good news across town. Other souls were thirsty and she could lead them to a well!
A well became a place of catalytic connection.
In Burundi wells continue to be a lifeline for survival. I’ve watched our Batwa friends in Matara dance on new land with a water source. I’ve witnessed their faces swell full with proper hydration, ripe with radiance. Clean water for cooking, cleaning, watering crops and livestock, water to drink.
Up in the dry terrain of Bubanza, dry dirt coats the back of your throat. The closest well used to be a three-hour walk and a long wait in line away–and then it was a bucket filled with brown water. Then awaited another three-hour walk home under the now high afternoon sun … all that time and energy spent on dirty water, all to be repeated by women and children the next day.
Imagine the walking, waiting and wanting. All for want of a well with clean water. Imagine all the hours lost to those daily treks–the kids barred from school because they’re designated to fetch the water, mothers unable to grow food because they must shuttle water buckets sloshing with silted water.
We’ve been told that wells are places of connection, places of betrothal and transformation. When you are thirsty, you go find a well. But we must never lose sight of the fact that wells are always about real water first.
We visit places like Bubanza, well-less, and think on the old stories. We begin dreaming of wells for our friends, so they can have clean water in their neighborhood. Water to drink, to bath, to cook for the family. Water to irrigate a garden and improve hygiene and health. Water close to home with easy access so you can get some one the way to school or run for more to do the days’ laundry.
A well is nothing short of a catalytic connection to a better kind of life.
Last week we brought those old stories to life in Bubanza. [Read: O, That We May Love Well] We decided to believe that God still brings water to the desert, wells of living water to the thirsty. We bet that our “little bit” could transform into “enough” for a well in Bubanza to bring catalytic change to an entire community. We proclaimed with each gift and each prayer that God still is our Well overflowing with Living Water–for us and our Burundian brothers and sisters alike.
SheLoves sisters came together with heart, prayers and funds. Bubanza friends volunteered to be the maintenance committee to learn how to tend the well and keep it functioning for the community. A Burundian team brought in their equipment and expertise to dig a well. Together we gather around this well, showing that a well remains a place of catalytic connection.
We are all together around this well.
Now maybe the kids will drink this clean water and rush home to tell their mamas: There’s a well! There’s clean water for us! And maybe they will also come to see there’s a Well with Living Water who sees them fully and with such love!
Editor’s note: The images here show the first well drilled in the community of Bubanza in Burundi last week. The drilling machinery arrived on Feb. 7 and on Feb. 13, the community had water! The children got to frolic in the fresh, beautiful, clean water. Due to the size of the community, they need about 10 wells. Our SheLoves Well will be the second well for our friends and we’ll share the photos as soon as it’s drilled!
Main image: Girl, by Kashif